It was just last year, about this time.
His folks had been invited to a party and they really wanted to go. Barry had overheard them talking. His mother said, in a resigned voice; “We can’t go. We can’t leave Barry home alone just before Christmas…” The sadness in her voice cut him like a razor. He had his jacket on, preparing to go out, but changed it. He made noise in the hall, to deceive them into thinking he’d just entered. He saw them in the room, greeted them, and with a bit of desperation in his voice, asked permission to go to the Christmas party up the road. His parents happily gave it.
He made this phoney smile as if he’d won a prize.